Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Crazy People Make Everything Better

I am a designer and the company I work for is essentially a printer. We do a lot of things, make a lot of things, print a lot of things. On a daily basis, I not only talk to standard issue end-user type customers but also vendors and brokers and companies that rely on us to produce the items they will then resell.

The representative for one such company has to call my office on a fairly regular basis and is clearly determined not to let the office doldrums get to her. We'll call her Sue.

My phone rings. A wobbly little old lady voice on the other end wants to know if we print on flexible materials like rubber or plastic. Ever mindful of providing good customer service, I start to ask specifics, trying to figure out if I have a vendor who could help this sweet little old lady. She finally sighs and says, in this trembly little voice, "Well, I GUESS it would be printing on latex. We want to have novelty condoms made. Can you do that?"

It's Sue.

She has been an angry male customer fussing about an obscene misspelling on "his" business card. She has used thick exaggerated country accents and absurdly poor French accents. She has started to place false orders on several occasions before I realized it was her. She has sung limericks to me. She has refused to discuss business until I go along with her new knock-knock joke. She has simply started to moo when she hears it's me picking up the phone.

Today I answered the phone and just heard chewing.

"Hi, Sue. What can I do for you?"

This always gives her a giggle. When I know it's her.

It might sound irritating or insane but I thank my lucky stars for Sue. She doesn't take anything too seriously. She doesn't have a fit about deadlines because she doesn't see the sense in acting like that (reasoning that yelling doesn't actually make anything happen faster). And she never uses the same joke twice. They aren't all brilliant, but she always thinks of something I haven't heard before.

My favorite customer is this 40-ish, no-frills, tough broad, mother of two smacking gum on the other end of my phone line. In her own way, she's more sane than anyone else who calls me all day.


  1. What a riot! She reminds me of my grandfather--sometimes he would call the house and, calling up the deep Southern accent he acquired living in Alabama until his teens, would pretend to conduct a survey: "Ma'am, if you don't mind I'd like to ask you how you feel about the President. . ." Ha!

  2. That rocks! I love having people in my life who embrace sillyness. It makes the mundane everydayness of life so much better.

    My Uncle started doing this routine with us kids when we were little. We'd ask for a soda. He'd say, "You want to go to North Dakota?" and so on. After he had us all collapsing in giggles, he would switch to really bad puns that had everyone groaning in mock horror. My siblings and I are now between the ages of 35 and 20 - he still does the routine. I love that.

  3. Marisa -- Oh, sweet Lord. I am now in love with Sue.

  4. The hubster and I do this all the time at home; voices, dialects, silly songs, crazy jokes, pretend-fights. It sounds like the Castanzas and the Bunkers on acid. (Imagine an executive barritone screaming Edith Bunker's part in "Those Were The Days" at the top of his lungs, soprano -- "And you knew who you WEHHH THENNNN!")

    But Sue just kills me. 'Cause she's got the stones to do it at work. I'd love to get a peek into her sock drawer.

  5. The Guy and I do that at home, too! (I choose to think this is a good sign about our compatibility and not a sign that we are both a bit off our rockers.)

    But, yeah, Sue does it at work. And she started when she didn't even know me. I mean, she did this to me via phone for like six months before we had even met. I think she tested me by telling me a joke the first time we talked, determined that I had a sense of humor and proceeded to do her routine. She doesn't do it with everyone, but several other people have grinned and made comments when Sue is mentioned that indicate to me that she does her thing on the phone to them, too.

    If she calls and finds that I am depressed or having a rough day, she'll call back later or the next day even if she has no business to conduct with a new gag or joke just to cheer me up.

    Then, if she thinks it's really serious, she'll send an email with some bizarre gag or wierd photograph to make me laugh.

    Sue is my hero.

  6. Oh, and Wordgirl - I am just in stiches imagining the singing routine! That's HILARIOUS.